Top 3 Healthy Family Meals

Finding family friendly healthy food is not always easy

Finding family friendly healthy food is not always easy

In today’s world finding time to spend together as a family can be difficult. Meal time is perhaps the most ideal time to all sit down together and spend some quality time. Yet this can be difficult and maybe even stressful. Often at least one member of the family may be on a diet and that has to be balanced with catering to the palate and tastes of the children. This can be a real challenge. Eating healthy is obviously really important but this can potentially make meal times very stressful.

YogaBugs want to help so we have scoured our recipe books and found 3 top recipes to help you make the most of your family meal times.

1. Meatless Manicotti

Ingredients -

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8-ounce) package manicotti (14 shells)
1 (26-ounce) jar fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
Cooking spray
1 cup water

How to prepare -

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, cottage cheese, and the next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) in a medium bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons cheese mixture into each uncooked manicotti. Pour half of tomato-basil pasta sauce into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer over sauce, and top with the remaining sauce. Pour 1 cup water into dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella evenly over sauce. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until shells are tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

2. Plum Chicken Salad

Ingredients -

bout 8 ounces fresh plums, pitted and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chopped almonds
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup olive oil
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
8 ounces roasted or grilled boneless, skinless chicken, chopped or shredded
(about 2 cups)
6 cups mixed greens (like mesclun), torn into bite-size pieces

How to prepare -

Toss the plums with the vinegar in a large salad bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.  Meanwhile, put the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan frequently, until they are aromatic and beginning to darken, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. . Sprinkle the plums with salt and pepper and add the oregano, oil, celery, onion and chicken; toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. (The salad can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated for up to an hour.) To serve, divide the greens evenly among 4 plates and top each with some of the plum-chicken mixture, or add the greens to the salad bowl and toss everything together. Garnish with the toasted almonds.

3. Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients -

 

4 carrot(s), medium, peeled and finely diced 1/4 pepper, black ground
2 stalk(s) celery, finely diced 1/3 cup Chinese plum sauce
1 pepper(s), red, bell, large, seeded and finely diced 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, less sodium
1 water chestnuts, canned, (8 ounce), drained and finely diced 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3 scallion(s) (green onions), (white and green parts), thinly sliced 1 tsp. chili paste, Oriental, such as sriracha (or to taste)
2 Tbsp. ginger, fresh, grated or finely minced 1/4 cup cashews, dry-roasted, unsalted, chopped
4 clove(s) garlic, minced 1/4 cup cilantro, fresh, minced, plus extra for garnish (optional)
1 lb. chicken, ground, (at least 90% lean) 1 head(s) lettuce, Boston, (may substitute iceberg lettuce or romaine hearts)

How To Prepare -

Liberally coat a large skillet with oil spray, and preheat it over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, bell pepper, water chestnuts, scallions, ginger, and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften slightly, about 5 minutes, adding a tablespoon of water at a time as necessary to prevent scorching. Reapply oil spray if necessary, and add the ground chicken to the skillet. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink, breaking the meat into a fine crumble with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Season with the black pepper. Add the plum sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and chili paste and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until heated through. Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the cashews and cilantro. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Clean the lettuce and break off 12 individual leaves (trim away the stem end of the leaves if they are tough). Fill each lettuce cup with roughly ½ cup of the chicken mixture. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.

ACROSS-THE-UK

Top Ten Tips To Get Your Child Fit & Healthy

Number One Tip... Get your child to YogaBugs

Number One Tip… Get your child to YogaBugs

1. Get your child to YogaBugs. YogaBugs is great exercise for all children and fully inclusive for children of all abilities with different classes for various age groups. YogaBugs not only works the body but also develops concentration, self-esteem, literacy and numeracy. YogaBugs uses yoga as a medium to tell stories and inspire children.

2. Eat slowly and in moderation. In a day and age when nearly a quarter of children are obese or overweight, this is really important. Control portion sizes and you will be able to continue to offer a wide variety of food. Also make sure they eat slowly. This will allow their brain the time to realise they are actually full.

3. A minimum of eight hours sleep. Sleep shall help your child keep to the right weight. Sleep will rest their metabolism and prepare it for burning fat the following day.

4. Give them a choice. Turn the television off but then give your child a choice of activities. This leaves them feeling empowered and more inclined to join in the physical activity because they have actively chosen it.

5. Get dancing. Use your love of music to get your child active. Have lounge discos and they will be getting exercise whilst having loads of fun and bonding with you.

6. Involve their friends. Children are far more likely to be active if they are playing with their friends. Just make sure the games consoles are out of reach.

7. Ditch the car. Walking to and from school is not only great for the environment, it makes sure your child has done some physical activity before they have even truly begun their day. It won’t hurt you either.

8. Turn TV commercials into fitness breaks. Nobody really likes it when adverts ruin their favourite show. Invent funny names for simple exercises like squat thrusts, press-ups, and sit-ups, and then do them together till the show comes back on. This will really add up over the course of the day.

9. Get charitable. Exercise for exercise sake can be difficult to motivate yourself for never mind your little ones. Yet, it becomes far easier with a focus. Sign up for a charity fun walk. Children have great empathy and they will love being able to help those less fortunate.

10. Get them in the garden. Love it or hate it there is no doubt that gardening is good physical exercise for everyone. Get you kids involved and not only will they be doing something healthy they will also be learning new skills.

ACROSS-THE-UK

 

Children learn through play

shutterstock_74487196-e1347661756405-620x410

As a parent it is not always easy to engage your children with something that is educational. They can get distracted, bored or simply become unreceptive. When a child no longer wishes to learn, they will however be willing to play. The shrewd approach here is to make sure they are learning by stealth.

First of all when children play they are learning to solve problems. how to interact with others and how to develop the fine and gross motor skills needed to grow and learn. Playing can help children do the following:

  • Develop physical skills. Gross motor skills are developed as a child learns to reach, grasp, crawl, climb and balance. Fine motor skills develop slightly later as children learn to handle small toys.
  • Develop cognitive concepts. Children learn to solve problems (What does this do? Does this puzzle piece fit here?) through play. Children also learn colors, numbers, size and shapes. They have the ability to enhance their memory skills as well as their attention span. Children move on to higher levels of thought as they play in a more stimulating environment.
  • Develop language skills. Language develops as a child plays and interacts with others. This begins with parents playing cooing games with their children and advances to practical levels such as telling make-believe stories and jokes.
  • Develop social skills. Learning to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules are all important skills learned in early games. These skills grow as the child plays. As a result, children learn the roles and rules of society.

So what can you do as a parent to encourage learning through play. You are child’s first playmate and you have an important role to play. Interestingly children tend to be more creative when their parent is involved in play. To bring out this creativity simply observe, follow and be creative.

Group environments are really great to help children develop and learn through play. Naturally, structured play will have more benefits than free play. The right after school club or Saturday morning activity will provide this environment for structured play.

YogaBugs does this fantastically. Children are able to imagine themselves as lions or pirates, whilst enjoying physical exercise, developing self-esteem, social interaction and numeracy and literacy skills. This is real learning by stealth.

ACROSS-THE-UK

 

My Child Has An Imaginary Friend

The truth about imaginary friends

Did you know that around 65% children from pre-school to age 7 have created an imaginary friend at one time or another. Most imaginary friends are moved on after about 6 months and the majority of children have lost them by the time they start school. Imaginary friends are perhaps unsurprisingly most common amongst eldest and only children.

Imaginary friends can take many forms. Generally speaking however imaginary friends are either objects such as dolls or teddy bears or an invisible imaginary person. A study at the University of Oregon found that where children have an imaginary friend that is personified as a doll or teddy they tend to have a parent like relationship whereas if the imaginary friend is invisible, the relationship is more egalitarian. The study also found that boys tended to only create male imaginary friends where as girls would create both male and female companions.

It can be common for parents to be concerned about the creation of an imaginary friend. After all adults don’t have them! And it is perhaps this lack of understanding from adults that means parental concern grows. Well as you have already read above, first of all it is very normal.

Unstructured time alone is a big factor in children creating imaginary friends. This is why it is most common for only children to engage in this sort of activity. The obvious solution is that the child needs to spend more time in the company of other children. Well there can be no doubt that children interacting with other children is a good thing as it allows them to develop their social interaction skills. But an imaginary friend is good practise for children. Research by Yale University found that children with imaginary friends have richer vocabularies and get along better with their classmates. Therefore it is also unsurprising that they are better able to show empathy as they find it easier to imagine what others are thinking.

Children can create imaginary friends for a variety of reasons. The most basic reason is simply they find it fun. Subconsciously children are also creating them to practice fledgling social skills.  At times a child may create an imaginary friend to provide reassurance at times of stress or change. If a child feels powerless, they may create someone simply to give them control and have someone to boss around.

The study from the University of Oregon discovered that 99% percent of children are aware that their friend is imaginary and not real. Touchingly only one child remained adamant that their friend was real.

An imaginary friend can become a valued part of any family. Parents should relax and enjoy it, and take the opportunity to ask questions about the friend as it will undoubtedly present them with unprecedented access to their child’s inner most thoughts and feelings. Parents just need to be careful that they do not allow the imaginary friend to take over family life, or their child misses real experience because they are too engaged with with their imaginary friend. Most of all parents must make sure that their child is developing relationships with real friends.

Most children will lose their imaginary friends as they start school. These sort of relationships are not socially acceptable and so the child will make the decision to move on  themselves. If a child however, is withdrawing to spend time with their imaginary friend at the expense of real life parents should consider consulting a professional to determine if the child has any underlying fears, concerns or anxieties.

YogaBugs actively encourages imagination. At a YogaBugs class children do not simply do yoga poses they imagine themselves as lions or pirates. Imagination is a truly wonderful thing and every effort should be made to encourage it. At YogaBugs even imaginary friends are welcome.

machester_yb

Concentration develops over time

Inspiring children since 2006

YogaBugs develops children’s concentration

 

 

My child won’t do as they are told

 At YogaBugs we work with children aged 3-12 years old. However we not only work with the children but also the parents. Our regular contact with parents mean that our instructors often feedback and we notice some interesting trends.

One of the most common trends is that “my child struggles to concentrate.” Sometimes parents are so worried by this perceived problem that they are almost reluctant to let their child participate in a class. They are concerned their child is ‘not ready’ “Sean doesn’t always follow instructions’, or ‘Faye will often just do want she wants and that will ruin the class.’

The concern these parents have for how their child may have a negative impact on the class for others is commendable but at YogaBugs we have great news for them. All children struggle to concentrate. We are able to tell parents ‘Your concerns are totally normal and we have done the research to make sure our classes develop this part of the brain.’

Toddlers and young children’s brains work differently to those of fully grown adults. Amazingly adults can find this a very difficult concept to grasp. The truth is toddlers and young children are so interested and excited in their surroundings that their innate desire to explore the world around them means that sitting in one place for an extended period of time is of little interest to them. Young children are notoriously self-directed, quite simply they have not yet developed their brains to fully understand social norms. A young child is still developing their emotional intelligence and as such they lose the urge to stay involved once their interest has faded.

We love this about young children. At YogaBugs we work with children to help them retain this fascination with the world and we believe it is our job to be entertaining and inspire the child to engage throughout the whole session. Yes young children may struggle to sit and listen for extended periods of time, but YogaBugs engages their imagination and keeps them busy physically.

Developing the ability to concentrate

 Young children are constantly on the move and with boundless energy move quickly from one activity to the next. They have so much energy they are actually hit with an overwhelming urge to move onto something else. Again this is almost incomprehensible to adults.

As a child matures their attention span develops and matures over time.

Passive to active. – When your child was a baby they could only look at and interact with objects directly in their line of sight. As a toddler they then develop the ability to look around and choose objects. As they continue to grow they will begin to make choices. It is then up to the adult to help the child make the right decisions.

Unsystematic to systematic searching. –  A baby will just gaze at objects in a haphazard way and then put the other end in their mouth. As a baby becomes a toddler it will begin to investigate the object systematically and methodically. As they continue to grow, they will begin to make choices on what they search for, becoming more able to discern what is and what is not of interest to them.

Broad to selective. – A baby struggles with filtering out other sources of information. Toddlers however are able to concentrate more selectively. Eventually children are able to multi-task, after all even young children can play a DS and watch television at the same time.

What can parents do to help improve concentration?

 

  • Minimise distractions
  • Avoid games and television that foster short attention spans
  • Actively encourage children to look for things
  • Create a quiet area
  • Keep the house tidy
  • Develop with the child, as a child progresses so must the parent
  • Encourage use of eye contact

 

YogaBugs and Concentration

The ability to concentrate is a key life skill. It is also an important skill in becoming a good footballer. YogaBugs classes are specially designed to improve concentration for young children.

 

Top 10 Health Tips For A Great 2014

Make 2014 your year for a fit and healthy lifestyle

When the clock strikes midnight on December 31st many of us resolve to live healthier better lives.  YogaBugs want to help you this New Year and so here are our Top Ten 10 Tips to a healthy 2014.

1. What Does The Cat Do?

The hit viral song of 2013 was What Does The Fox Say, in 2014 we want you to ask what does the cat do? When a cat wakes up it stretches. Learn to stretch with yoga as soon as you wake up. This will aid circulation, digestion and ease back pain.

2. Let your emotions out.

Having a cry is good for you. So is having a good laugh. Studies from Japan have proven that laughter in particular can boost the immune system and help the body in fighting allergic actions.

3. Eat your most important meal of the day.

If you miss breakfast you can expect to put on weight. The good news is you can eat loads for breakfast as long as it is the right stuff, such as fruit, yoghurt, high fibre cereal or brown toast. Fill yourself up and avoid the desire to snack later in the day.

4. Give your mind a work out.

People who develop their mental agility tend to have lower rates of age related mental decline. Simple things like brushing your teeth with your other hand can make a big difference. This will energise your brain.

5. Judge a food by its cover.

Always read the label in the supermarket. See what the products contain as understanding what is in your food will help you make healthier choices for you and your family.

6. Take stress for a walk.

When you are feeling the pressure, get out and go for a walk. It will clear your mind and give you space to put your thoughts in order. If it is a brisk walk it shall also count as exercise.

7. There is no substitute for exercise.

Quite simply 30 minutes of aerobic activity for 5 days a week will help you burn those calories and look after your heart. Fit it in when you can. Just make sure you do it.

8. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

You may have heard it many times, but in terms of diet your five a day is perhaps the most important thing you can do.

9. Enjoy a sweet treat.

When you finish dinner and need something sweet. Do not despair simply swap high sugar fatty deserts for diet jelly with natural yoghurt.

10. Do it for at least 8 hours a night.

Sleep is really important. It is when your body and brain recharge. You need at least 8 hours a night. Do all you can to make sure this happens.

yogabugs_2

 

Having Fun At Christmas Is Good For You

All too often the festive period receives bad press when it comes to being healthy. A time when adults drink too much, everyone eats too much and we all sleep a lot. The negatives of the festive period may be obvious, even if we choose to ignore them, however an article in the Daily Mirror has highlighted just how Christmas can benefit our health. And the best part is we get to do all the things we would want to do at this time of year.

Everybody loves a good old sing song, whether it is a raucous Karaoke party or candlelit carol service. Swedish researchers have discovered that singing not only lifts the spirits but it also helps control our breathing and regulate our heartbeat and pulse. Singing a solo shall do you the world of good but if you can find others to croon along with, the research shows this will be even more beneficial.

Heart Research UK carried out a study as part of their annual Sing For Your Heart Campaign, and found that singing is a great ‘aerobic exercise, giving your heart and lungs a fantastic workout.’ Most excitingly the health benefits of singing are similar to yogic breathing, which has a beneficial effect on blood pressure.

So you can make singing your exercise but surely all that food is going to pile on the pounds. Well perhaps not as your Christmas dinner makes it really easy to get your five a day.

Christmas is a time to be enjoyed and YogaBugs are big believers in fun. That is why we created this special free online gift for you, a Christmas Advent Calendar.

Have a great Christmas from all at YogaBugs.

yogabugs_2

 

What will it take for people to get the message?

Healthy diet and exercise is the only way forward

Healthy diet and exercise is the only way forward

This week The Sunday Times obtained some seriously scary information in a Freedom of Information Request from Newport Council. In August 2012 a five year old girl was taken into care because she weighed more than three times the weight of a healthy child her age. The girl weighted 10st 5lbs.

Newport council issued a statement saying, “a thorough assessment of the child and the family is always considered in cases like these.”  In October 2012 the girl’s weight rose to 10st 10lbs, but had fallen to 7st 7lbs  by August 2013 while she was in care. This extreme case highlights the bigger problem of childhood obesity.

A spokesperson from Public Health Wales, said “fast food advertising, especially for high fat, highly processed foods, as is the amount of fast food outlets in more deprived areas and a lack of play spaces for children,” were at the root of the problem.

Parents have passed the consumer culture onto their children. They are finding it more and more difficult to say no. The current economic climate does not help the situation either, with a Bargain Bucket growing in appeal for cash strapped families.

The cost of living is increasing and wages are not matching it. Times are tough and families need help. This can be done financially by the government, but organisations such as YogaBugs also have a role to play. The role is one of education. Both for the children and the parents.

YogaBugs encourages children to do physical exercise. The beauty of it is the children do not see it as a chore or task to be completed, they are in fact playing. Whilst doing the physical exercise of yoga, the children are participating in stories and going on wild adventures. There are many benefits of children’s yoga, such as improved concentration, but the YogaBugs programme is specially designed to also develop numeracy, literacy and self-esteem. YogaBugs also support the parents with booklets on exercises for home and the YogaBugs Fun Zone has some great stuff to help parents keep their children healthy. 

Keeping children healthy is the responsibility of everyone. The poor girl in Newport was let down by everyone who came into contact with her. Surely somebody could have prevented a situation where a child is taken into care because they are severely overweight.

if you would like to help keep children fit and healthy, could you run a YogaBugs franchise? YogaBugs are looking for the right people to join their network and help more children be physically and emotionally active. Make a positive difference!

A great idea for an original Christmas present

Happy Christmas From The YogaBugs Team

Happy Christmas From The YogaBugs Team

What do you buy the child that has everything? Finding the right gift at Christmas can be difficult, finding an original gift even more so. Yet creative parents across the UK seem to have found the perfect solution. YogaBugs.

“It has been quite surprising. We have had a nice upturn in visits to the website and bookings for the New Year, with parents or close family booking children into classes as Christmas presents. They are looking for something that lasts way beyond Christmas, something more than just a toy.” said a spokesperson from Bugs HQ.

YogaBugs is a unique children’s activity devised by the consultant to hit CBeebies show Waybaloo, Fenella Lindsell. The sessions take children on wild adventures where they can be lions, jungle explorers or pirates. This is all done through yoga postures giving the children a physical workout by stealth. The sessions also have hidden benefits as the classes have been devised to also improve literacy, numeracy and self-esteem. The sessions are really inclusive and accessible to all.

Linda a mum of a YogaBugs child, reckons YogaBugs is the ideal Christmas gift. “I love the way in which Yogabugs has enabled Annabel to explore worlds and visit places in her imagination; it is the perfect antidote to a busy school day.”

All YogaBugs instructors are qualified, highly trained, well motivated and CRB checked. This is why parents across the UK see YogaBugs as the perfect antidote to games consoles, tablets and DVDs. 

 

Technology Is A Ticking Time Bomb For Children

YB-MiniBugs-3

 

Researchers at Swansea University have discovered that the number of children receiving treatment for back or neck pain has doubled in the last six months. Their research has found that more than two thirds of primary school children are experiencing back or neck pain over the course of one year. Things need to happen to make a difference.

The research highlights the growing unease in the medical community about the excessive use of computers, tablets, consoles and smart phones. Children are becoming less active at home and spending more time on computers at school. It has been well documented that excessive use of these technologies can have a negative impact on posture. The excessive use of computers and consoles has also seen children take part in less physical activity  This has also resulted in high child obesity rates. More needs to be done get children to be physically active.  

Lorna Taylor the physiotherapist involved in the research said “Modern lifestyles and the increase in technology are having detrimental effects on our children’s musculoskeletal health and, if not addressed in school and at home now, will have far reaching effects for our children, the future working generation and society. This is a health care time bomb.” What Lorna Taylors’ predicting is a huge strain on the NHS in the the future, as it is overloaded by people with back and neck injuries caused by to much time spent in front of a screen as young children. It is not a cure that is needed but rather a prevention. 

Adam al-Kashi, the head of research and education at charity BackCare responded to this study by saying, “There are many pluses to modern life and technology, but the darker side is how it divorces us from the need to use our bodies and exert ourselves physically. We are now living dangerously convenient lifestyles, where you don’t even have to move to exist.” The solution is creating an activity that inspires children to leave the laptop and do something to counteract the damage. 

One of the key benefits of Yoga is how it can improve body posture., it realigns the spine. This can be done easily with a few yoga poses a week. A good session of yoga could be the difference between a life with or without back and neck pain.

Whilst it may be easy to explain the benefits of yoga to a an adult and an adult with a back injury will try most things to alleviate the pain, it may be more difficult to inspire a young child, and they almost certainly will have no interest or perhaps understanding of the benefits of preventing back pain. Therefore they have be inspired in a different way.

YogaBugs is for children from when they are first are able to walk until the age of twelve. YogaBugs however is so much more than just a yoga. YogaBugs uses yoga postures to take children on wild adventures, the postures are the medium through which a story is told and acted out by the children. The children love it but they do not realise they are doing yoga. They are getting all the benefits and having fun. The way YogaBugs has been designed means that for children there is also hidden benefits for numeracy, literacy, self-esteem and social interaction. YogaBugs is the answer to diffusing the ticking time bomb of back and neck pain.

Whilst across the UK there are already thousands of children benefiting from YogaBugs, many more still need to be offered the chance. YogaBugs are looking for the right people to join their franchise network. With 10 years franchising experience YogaBugs know what they are doing so much so, they are able guarantee their franchisees an income of at least £30,000 per year. 

An international franchisor represented in Australia, China and Singapore, YogaBugs is the leading children’s activity franchise. Franchisees do not need a background in yoga just a passion for making  a  positive difference to the lives of as many children as possible. Could you do it?